The IAI Standardization committee, consisting of eleven
members, reported in the Identification News, August 1973 pg.13,
the result of their three-year study. The assignment given to
the committee in 1970, covered two specific areas:
In March 1971, a questionnaire regarding identification
criteria was sent to identification officials throughout the
world consisting of 111 local, state, provincial and national
identification agencies, of which 68% responded, as to:
The responses received to this questionnaire confirmed the fact that there are no national or local laws mandating any minimum number of matching characteristics before friction ridge evidence can be admitted in court. The responding agencies further indicated that they adhere to a policy which permits their qualified technicians to testify based upon a varying number of ridge characteristics, dependent upon a variety of factors including clarity, types of and location of characteristics, and absence of discrepancies.
The committee submitted interim reports in 1971 and 1972 recommending that a federally funded in-depth study be conducted to establish comprehensive statistics, which might well provide the basis upon which a determination could be made as to the practicality of utilizing weighted values when comparing friction ridge characteristics. In addition, for purposes of establishing positive identification, with additional weight being given to the more unique types of characteristics.
In June of 1972 a proposal was submitted to project SEARCH for funding from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. As of 1973 a request for funding had not been submitted.
Based upon a review of all available technical data, upon the experience of the personnel in those agencies who responded to the questionnaire, ridge characteristic studies conducted to that date, and the personal expertise of the individual members of IAI, the Standardization Committee recommended, and IAI adopted on 8/1/73:
"No valid basis exists at this
time for requiring that a pre-determined minimum number of
friction ridge characteristics must be present in two
impressions in order to establish positive identification."
A concluding report of the Standardization Committee of IAI was reported in the Identification News, August 1974, pg. 5. This concluding report reaffirms the earlier report and stated that it was impractical to establish any set minimum as regards to the number of matching ridge characteristics that must be present for positive identification.
"Although this might be interpreted as a negative position. . . . and certainly a position contradictory to the conventional attitude taken in some political entities that a minimum of at least 10 to 12 matching characteristics must be clearly definable before identification can be established . . . the value of the statement rests in the fact that a positive position had finally been adopted by the International Association for Identification and could be reliably quoted by an expert witness when giving testimony in the future. In short, the I.A.I. adopted the position that each identification represents a unique set of circumstances, and the number of required matching characteristics is dependent upon a variety of conditions which automatically rule out the practicality of mandating a pre-determined minimum."
The remainder of the 1974 report dealt with the development of minimum standards with regard to the training and experience needed to testify.